Skip to main content

Congratulations to the Class of 2021

May 12, 2021

A short but loving video from your assorted DAMES faculty offering heartfelt congratulations to the graduating class of 2021! We so enjoyed teaching you the languages and cultures of Asia and the Middle East over the past four years! please stay in touch and let us know how we can continue to support you. ❤️❤️❤️❤️

Virtual Event: On the Politics of Presence: Afro-Asia in the Age of Black Lives Matter

March 29, 2021

On the Politics of Presence: Afro-Asia in the Age of Black Lives Matter

with Dr. Marvin Sterling

Diandra Dwyer, UNC DAMES alumna and Tokyo-based filmmaker, Moderator

April 8th, 4pm

Marvin D. Sterling’s research centers on a range of Jamaican cultural expressions in Japan, including roots reggae, dancehall reggae, and Rastafari. He adopts several theoretical perspectives in this research. He uses performance studies, for instance, to ethnographically explore the dimensions of social power—such as gender, class and ethnic difference—that inform Japanese engagement with these cultural expressions. Japanese practitioners of these significantly Afrocentric cultural expressions afford analysis of how ideas of race and particularly blackness have been constructed and re-imagined in Japan and around the globe. In a more recent line of research, Sterling ethnographically explores the experiences of mixed-race peoples of Japanese and African descent as insight into the imagination of Japaneseness and blackness in Japan today. He is author of Babylon East: Performing Dancehall, Roots Reggae and Rastafari in Japan (Duke University Press, 2010).

 

Sponsored by the Department of Asian & Middle Eastern Studies, and co-sponsored by the Carolina Asia Center.

DAMES Statement on Anti-Asian Violence and Discrimination

March 17, 2021

The Department of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies categorically condemns the attacks on Asian Americans in Atlanta on March 16, 2021, and rejects the rise in anti-Asian violence and discrimination of the past year. These acts are rooted in a long American history of white supremacy, xenophobia, and anti-immigrant racism, and our department exists to oppose such bigotry and bias through education, language learning, international collaboration, and scholarly activism. We stand in solidarity with UNC’s newly established Asian American Center and our long-standing partner the Carolina Asia Center and offer our support to all Asian and Asian American students, faculty, and staff.

Some resources suggested by Professor Heidi Kim, Director of the AAC, among other friends and colleagues:

Asian American Community Organizations

UNC Asian American Center. Asian American Center (unc.edu)

North Carolina Asian Americans Together. North Carolina Asian Americans Together (ncaatogether.org)

  

Counseling and Psychological Services

UNC Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS, unc.edu)

Asian American Psychological Association COVID-19 Resources, AAPA COVID-19 Related Resources – Google Docs

Asian Americans and the Movement for Black Lives (Workshop). March 31, 2021 7 p.m.

Meeting Registration – Zoom

Asian Mental Health Collective (online community for Asian mental health support). Asian Mental Health Collective (asianmhc.org)

Asian, Pacific Islander, and South Asian American Therapist Directory

APISAA Therapist Directory — Asian Mental Health Collective (asianmhc.org)

24-Hour Asian LifeNet Hotline. Call 1 (877) 990-8585, Available 24/7. Languages available: Cantonese, Mandarin, Japanese, Korean, Fujianese.

 

Resources for Reporting Hate Crimes

At UNC

  1. Report an Incident Form
  2. University Ombuds Office 

External Reporting Resources

  1. Stop AAPI Hate
  2. North Carolina Asian Americans Together (NCAAT)
  3. Fair Housing NC – Know Your Rights
  4. NAPABA Hate Crime Resources

 

Readings and Teaching Resources

Ho, Jennifer. “Anti-Asian Racism, Black Lives Matter, and COVID-19.” Japan Forum, DOI

10.1080/09555803.2020.1821749. https://doi.org/10.1080/09555803.2020.1821749.

Hsu, Madeline. Asian American History: A Very Short Introduction.2nd ed. Oxford University

Press, 2016.

Lee, Erika. The Making of Asian America: A History. Simon & Schuster 2015.

Lopez, Ian Haney. White By Law: the Legal Construction of Race. 10th Anniversary edition.

NYU Press 2006.

Maeda, Daryl. Chains of Babylon: the Rise of Asian America. University of Minnesota Press

2009.

Ngai, Mae. Impossible Subjects: Illegal Aliens and the Making of Modern America. Princeton

University Press 2014.

Schlund-Vials, Cathy, Linda Vo, Scott Wong (eds). Keywords for Asian American Studies. New

York University Press 2015.

 

Other Resources

Maiko Masquerade: New Book by Professor Emerita Jan Bardsley!

March 10, 2021

Jan Bardsley’s new book Maiko Masquerade: Crafting Geisha Girlhood in Japan debuts this month from University of California Press.

What’s Maiko Masquerade about?

Maiko Masquerade explores Japanese representations of the maiko, or apprentice geisha, in films, manga, and other popular media as an icon of exemplary girlhood. Jan Bardsley traces how the maiko, long stigmatized as a victim of sexual exploitation, emerges in the 2000s as the chaste keeper of Kyoto’s classical artistic traditions. Insider accounts by maiko and geisha, their leaders and fans, show pride in the training, challenges, and rewards maiko face. No longer viewed as a toy for men’s amusement, she serves as catalyst for women’s consumer fun. This change inspires stories of ordinary girls—and even one boy—striving to embody the maiko ideal, engaging in masquerades that highlight questions of personal choice, gender performance, and national identity.

What inspired the book?

Maiko Masquerade draws on Jan Bardsley’s many years of teaching “Geisha in History, Fiction, and Fantasy,” which focused on the dynamics of cultural representation in Japan and abroad. She dedicates the book to her Carolina students.

Jan Bardsley

Jan remembers students asking at the end of the course, “What kinds of geisha stories exist these days in Japan?” This question inspired Jan to take up research in Kyoto. “Research quickly made me realize that maiko (apprentice geisha) were the focus of popular attention, not geisha.”

In Kyoto, even Pikachu enjoys maiko cosplay. Photo by Jennifer Prough, 2019.

As Kyoto’s mascot and character brand, maiko morph into kawaii objects of all kinds–candy, street signs, post-it notes. Japanese and international tourists cosplay as maiko. Actual maiko perform in Kyoto events and public dances.

Leading a UNC study abroad program in Osaka in 2011, Jan taught “Japanese Theater” and joined students on field trips to nearby Kyoto. “That semester gave me the chance to learn about contemporary geisha culture. I talked with artists, authors, and shop owners in the neighborhoods (hanamachi) where geisha live and work. I attended public dances and met geisha, maiko, and their supporters.”

Why study maiko?

Photographed in Kyoto, 2009, by Claudia Bignion. Wikimedia Commons.

“Maiko Masquerade is not an ethnography of actual young women working as maiko. Rather I analyze the messages about girlhood in Japan evident in popular media.” This is the first academic work on maiko and makes Japanese representations available to an English-speaking audience.

“I hope my students enjoy getting the answer to their questions about geisha and maiko stories in contemporary Japan, even though it took me almost fifteen years to get back to them,” says Jan.

Blogging about maiko and geisha culture

Retired after 25 years at UNC, Jan is trying her hand at writing a blog to tell the many stories that she could not fit into the book. “I take up maiko costuming, food culture, books and movies on the hanamachi—further analyzing the dynamics of representation and enjoying the diverse stories.” Jan welcomes visitors to her new blog!

Virtual Event: Dissecting Blackness in Early-Twentieth-Century Egypt

February 23, 2021

Down to the Bone: Dissecting Blackness in Early-Twentieth-Century Egypt

With Dr. Taylor Moore

Shreya Parikh, Ph.D Candidate in UNC Sociology, Moderator

March 18th, 4PM

Taylor M. Moore is a University of California Presidential Postdoctoral Fellow in the History Department at UC Santa Barbara. Her research lies at the intersections of critical race studies, decolonial/postcolonial histories of science, and decolonial materiality studies. Her manuscript-inpreparation, Superstitious Women: Race, Magic, and Medicine in Egypt, uses modern Egyptian amulets as an archive to reconstruct the magical and vernacular medical life-worlds of peasant women healers, and their critical role developing medico-anthropological expertise in Egypt from 1880-1950. Taylor’s work is invested in illuminating the occult(ed) networks, economies, and actors whose bodies and labor are generally rendered invisible in Eurocentric histories of global science.

Register here.

Sponsored by the Department of Asian & Middle Eastern Studies, and co-sponsored by the Carolina Asia Center and the UNC Center for Middle East and Islamic Studies.

Virtual Event: Black American Relations with South Koreans

January 31, 2021

Black American Relations with South Koreans: Historical Origins and Present Trajectories

Presentation on February 3, 4 PM by Professor Nadia Kim (Loyola Marymount University), moderated by Morgan Wilson (Ph.D. candidate, UNC Department of History).

Nadia Y. Kim, professor of sociology at Loyola Marymount University, focuses on US race and citizenship inequalities regarding Korean/Asian Americans and South Koreans, race and nativist racism in Los Angeles (e.g., 1992 LA Unrest), immigrant women’s politics of the body and emotions, environmental racism and classism, and comparative racialization of Latinxs, Asian Americans, and Black Americans. Throughout her work, Kim’s approach centers (neo)imperialism, transnationality, and the intersectionality of race, gender, class, and citizenship. Kim is author of the multi-award-winning Imperial Citizens: Koreans and Race from Seoul to LA (Stanford, 2008); of Refusing Death: Immigrant Women Fight for Environmental Justice in LA (Stanford, forthcoming Spring 2021), and of award-winning journal articles on race and assimilation and on racial attitudes.

Register for the Zoom webinar here.

Part of the Department of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies speaker series Blackness in Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, supported by the Carolina Asia Center and the Institute for African American Research

 

Virtual Event: Black Americans and U.S.-Japan Relations

January 5, 2021

Paige Cottingham-Streater, ‘Black Americans and US-Japan Relations,’ January 21, 2021, 4 PM ET

PART OF THE 2020-21 SPEAKER SERIES, “BLACKNESS IN ASIAN AND MIDDLE EASTERN STUDIES”

 

This session will feature Paige Cottingham-Streater, executive director of the Japan-U.S. Friendship Commission, “Black Americans and U.S.-Japan Relations,” and will be moderated by Morgan Pitelka, chair of the Department of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies at UNC-Chapel Hill.

Cottingham-Streater directs the work of the Japan-U.S. Friendship Commission. The Commission is an independent federal government agency that supports research, education, public affairs and exchange with Japan. Its mission is to support reciprocal people-to-people understanding, and promote partnerships that advance common interests between Japan and the United States. Prior to joining the Commission, Cottingham-Streater served as deputy executive director of the Maureen and Mike Mansfield Foundation where she worked for sixteen years.  In addition to providing strategic leadership for the Mansfield Foundation, she directed the Mike Mansfield Fellowship Program, a Congressionally-established professional exchange for mid-level federal government employees.

Previously, Cottingham-Streater was director for the U.S.-Japan Project at the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies in Washington, DC.  In this capacity, she supervised visiting scholars, conducted research on US-Japan issues, managed the project’s budget and published the project’s newsletter.  And prior to that she served as counsel and legislative assistant in the office of Congressman Donald M. Payne (D-NJ), where she monitored legislative initiatives involving education, civil rights law enforcement, labor, and financial and social policy.  She was also a participant in the Japan Exchange and Teaching Program (JET), a staff attorney at the U.S. Department of Treasury, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and a law clerk at U.S. Department of Justice, U.S. Marshals Service.

Cottingham-Streater received a J.D. from the National Law Center at George Washington University and a bachelor’s degree from Connecticut College in government and Asian studies.

This series is organized by the UNC Department of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies with support from Carolina Asia Center, the UNC Center for Middle East and Islamic Studies, and the UNC Institute of African American Research.

Download flyer: Black Americans and US-Japan Relations flyer

Thank you for celebrating with us!

December 19, 2020
In the fall of 2019, our department set out an ambitious goal: to celebrate our fortieth anniversary by producing forty stories about students, faculty, and alumni, and by increasing participation in our modest fundraising efforts by encouraging forty donations over the course of the year. I’m happy to say both efforts were a success, and all of us in the department offer our sincere thanks to the alumni, parents, students, faculty, and retired faculty who donated.
We received a range of gifts small and large, and every one makes a huge difference for our department. One recent donor made a gift in honor of Dr. Larry Kessler, who passed away in August of this year. You can read more about Larry, who played a central role in the growth of Asian Studies at UNC, in a profile written by Professor Emeritus Miles Fletcher. Many thanks to the anonymous donor for honoring a valued colleague who helped build our field at UNC, and had a positive impact on generations of Carolina graduates.
Our “Forty for Forty” campaign is ending, but the reasons to celebrate (and to give) continue. In fact, we just received the wonderful news that Sarah Mackenzie, who graduated in 2020 with degrees in public policy and global studies and a minor in Arabic from DAMES, has won a Rhodes Scholarship, allowing her to study social policy at Oxford University before moving on to law school for a planned career as a public defender.
As always, please stay in touch by checking in our website, following our Twitter account, reaching out to our faculty and staff, and if you able, contributing to our fundraising efforts.
Thank you, and happy holidays!
Morgan
Chair of the Department of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies
Professor of History and Asian Studies

Internationalizing DAMES Courses: Dr. Yaghoobi Builds Bridges between UNC and Iran

December 5, 2020

As part of UNC’s Connecting Carolina Classrooms with the World (CCCW) initiative, Dr. Claudia Yaghoobi of DAMES internationalized two of her courses in the Fall 2020 semester. What does that mean, you ask? It means global collaboration and incredible experiences: students in Dr. Yaghoobi’s UNC classes collaborated with students taking similar classes at Shiraz University and Shahid Beheshti University in Iran, joining forces on group projects, discussions, and more.

I interviewed Dr. Yaghoobi about her experiences this semester. Her responses are recorded below.

1) How did you go about connecting your UNC students with students in Iran?

I am teaching two classes this semester and both are collaborating with faculty in Iran: ASIA/CMPL258: Iranian Prison Literature and ASIA/CMPL256: Love in Classical Persian Poetry. In addition to class meetings and discussions, students also use Padlet for asynchronous discussions. We have put students in groups in which we have a few Iranian and a few American students. Each group has created their own means of communication outside of the classroom such as google hangouts or WhatsApp. They are also working on several projects collaboratively. Iranian Prison Literature students from the U.S. and Iran work in groups to prepare 15-minute presentations for which they collaborate to gather information, conduct research, and present their finding via a video recording. Their presentations are required to embody a comparative view of social or political injustices in the two countries. Iranian students focus on a specific case in the U.S., such as the injustices in the case of Breonna Taylor, and the American students explore a similar case of injustice in Iran. My Classical Persian Poetry students are assigned a poetry reading and a calligraphy assignment for which they collaborate with their Iranian counterparts. American students are to pick a line of poem from the books we have read in class and practice with Iranian students to learn how to recite them correctly. They will practice their lines and present via a video recording at the end of the semester. For Calligraphy assignment again, American students work with Iranian counterparts to practice writing a line of poetry in Persian.

(Click here to download a video of Dr. Yaghoobi’s students practicing calligraphy!)

(You can also download this video of her students reciting poetry!)

2) What goals were you hoping to accomplish/what experiences were you hoping to give your students through the program?

The collaborative nature of this grant has enriched my capacity to teach comparatively and incorporate perspectives from both Iran and the U.S. For instance, in my Iranian Prison Literature class, which focuses on Iranian literature written in prisons or about prisoners, particularly under the Islamic Republic, we read novels and watch films around the topics of social justice, human rights, and judiciary system of Iran. The collaboration with Iranian faculty and students has allowed us to explore judicial system and social justice, particularly the current protests regarding racism in the U.S. to provide students with a rare comparative perspective. During class meetings, we analyze the ways that literature, film, and related textual practices have the ability to reframe the debates on social justice, prison torture, law enforcement and race, incarcerations, and violation of human rights. Our goal is to offer students from Iran to learn about Black Lives Matter and anti-racist protests in the U.S. and simultaneously to provide American students with a learning experience about the judicial injustices and prison conditions in Iran. Ultimately, we ask students from both countries to come up with tools and means that can help them to address the injustices of their respective countries by examining the same or similar violations of human rights in the other country.

3) What were your students’ reactions to the program? How about the students in Iran? What did they think of it?

Students on both sides have expressed extreme appreciation for being able to hear various authentic voices on the topics of discussion in each class. The best outcome of this collaborative teaching is that it allows students to see the nuances and multilayered factors that intersect for social injustices to occur in each respective country. Students comment on each other’s statements and respond to one another while we, the two faculty, facilitate the conversation and try to guide them in the right direction. The space given to students to lead the conversation (while moderated) is the most important aspect of this collaborative experience.

One student said, “I truly enjoyed having the opportunity to interact with the students in Iran this semester. It was such a privilege to be able to learn from them, and I’m so grateful that you set up this opportunity for our class this semester.”

4) Do you think the program was influenced at all, positively or negatively, by COVID-19?

Generally speaking, for students not to be on ground in the country of their focus, they obviously miss out on many cultural and social aspects of that country. However, in the case of Iran and my classes, since we do not have a study abroad program in Iran, I strongly believe that this was a rare and unique experience for my students. I have already been asked if I will continue such collaborations post- COVID-19. This collaborative teaching allowed me to provide my students with the “humanity” of Iran rather than what they see on news or social media. They have made friends with Iranian youth and are excited to maintain their friendships. Since they are all passionate about the same topics, they are also thinking of ways to collaborate post-fall semester.

Making Language Learning Meaningful: Project-Based Language Learning (PBLL) for Chinese Language Classes with Professor Zhou

December 4, 2020

The idea of doing something meaningful with my students this semester originated partially from a request email from Christy Parrish, the program manager of the Kidzu Children’s Museum in Chapel Hill. Before fall semester started, she asked for student translators to serve the large and active local Chinese/Mandarin-speaking community, with the possible collaboration of forming lasting partnerships that would create strong experiential opportunities for UNC students.

Kidzu’s need for translating a series of children’s books (mostly from Oxford Owl) fits well with the standards of project-based language learning (PBLL), an approach intended to engage language learners with real-world issues, meaningful target language use, and encourage cooperative learning.

This translation work is at the right level for my Chinese students as well, because the language in these children’s books is in simple or connected sentences that students could practice for the whole semester. With this in mind, I decided to have this translating opportunity as the final project for my Chinese 305 students.

The students seemed excited about the project, not to mention motivated, as it was focused on hands-on learning experiences or processes involving challenging and complex work. Students started information-gathering about writers, refreshing grammar/vocabulary. Then they had meet-ups with a Chinese speaker for scaffolding, instructor feedback for revisions, and finally told stories of the translated books to classmates and audiences from the Chinese community. Moving away from rote learning and memorization, incorporating students actively using language skills, and reaching out to a wider audience beyond the instructional setting is essential to learning a foreign language.

I was very impressed by the projects done by my students and I’m so proud of their achievements!